Israel-Greece-Cyprus Agreement: Prophecy in the making

The Jerusalem Post for 22nd-23rd February 2016 contained an important article entitled “A new geopolitical bloc is born: Israel, Greece, Cyprus”. The article begins by saying:

“The past month has been characterized by an unprecedented and noteworthy flurry of diplomatic activity between Jerusalem, Athens and Nicosia that suggests the emergence of a new geopolitical bloc in the region. “ The article continued by pointing out that in late January “a government-to-government conference was held in Jerusalem between the cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Greek government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Tsipras arrived with a large delegation of 10 ministers. … The following day, a trilateral summit was held in Nicosia [Cyprus] with Netanyahu, Tsipras, and President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades. The summit was followed by a significant joint declaration.”

It was stated that the “joint declaration that proclaimed the tripartite cooperation to be ‘non-exclusive.’ In other words, the tripartite agreement is open to additional countries, such as Egypt and perhaps even Turkey.” The article points out that Israel has strong defense and military relationships with both Greece and Cyprus. It noted that while these are of key importance, “The joint statement published in Nicosia following the summit describes seven areas of cooperation: energy, tourism, research and technology, environment, water, immigration and the fight against terrorism. A trilateral committee is to be established, headed by the directors general of the three ministries of energy, to explore the possibility of erecting a pipeline that will transfer gas from Israel to Cyprus and Greece.” The article then says that “Complicating  [this gas] issue further is the interest expressed by Turkish companies in Israeli gas.

The article finalizes by saying “From an Israeli perspective, the recent developments with Greece and Cyprus constitute a win-win situation. The strengthening of ties with these countries creates a new geopolitical bloc that could, to some extent, stand up to Turkey. … Stronger Israeli relations with Greece and Cyprus may also serve to encourage Turkey to show more flexibility in negotiations regarding normalization of ties between Ankara and Jerusalem.”

These are important developments as the Bible mentions Israel, Greece and Cyprus in several important places. In one passage, Israel and Greece are mentioned in the context of the wipe-out of Damascus, capital city of Syria. Part of the scenario of this is outlined in Isaiah 17. It seems from this passage that Israel becomes involved in this process as it talks about the depletion of Israeli military strength as a result of this. Immediately following, Isaiah 17 refers to the rushing of nations against Israel to wipe her out when she is at this low point militarily, and the miraculous intervention of God that ensues. It is here that Greece enters the picture in a military context in an associated passage in Zechariah.

Zechariah 9 begins: “The burden of the word of the Lord is against the land of [Syria] and Damascus is the goal thereof. For the eyes of the Lord are upon all mankind and upon the tribes of Israel.”  So the context is the wipe-out of Syria and Damascus. From Isaiah 17 it appears that Israel gets drawn into this conflict in some way. However, Zechariah 9 gives other details.  It is possible that verse 12 may be talking about the return of Jews to the land of Israel (their “stronghold”) after a period of dispersion when they were “prisoners of this hope.” But whether or not that is the case, they are definitely back in the land of Israel in verse 13. There, the Lord says “When I have bent Judah for Me like a bow, and filled the bow with Ephraim like arrows, I will raise up your sons O Zion [with] your sons O Greece, and make you like the sword of a mighty man. Then the Lord will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. And the Lord God will blow the trumpet…”

The bolded word between brackets in that quote should be noted. It is written here as “with as distinct from the word “against” which is used in many translations. There is a good reason why the translators thought that the word “against” was the best rendition. After all, around 165 BC the Jewish Maccabees revolted against Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) who ruled the Seleucid Empire, and they won. They re-established Jewish rule over much of the old land originally inhabited by the Israelites and set up the Maccabean Kingdom for a period of time.  For this reason, this passage was interpreted as referring to that event and “against” fitted in better than “with”. But Damascus was not an issue at that point, and, strictly speaking, the Seleucid Empire was not Grecian as such, but rather encompassed Turkey and Syria, not Greece. So in a strict sense, the armies of Antiochus were not Grecian at all. In addition, the Lord God did not appear over them in the battle and blow the trumpet on that occasion. So the basis on which the translation was made may be faulty.

In this case, then, we need to examine the words used so that a more faithful translation can be made. In the Greek Septuagint, the word used is “EPI” which has a wide variety of meanings including with as well as at, before, in, on, in the days of,  or in the time of, upon, by, for, over, & against. The choice depends entirely on the context and the translator’s information. The Masoretic Hebrew uses the word “AL” which has been translated “with” many times in the Bible as well as about, concerning, on, over, to, unto, upon and against. So the choice again depends on the context and translator’s preference. The conclusion is that “with” is just as valid a translation as “against” in the present context. Indeed it is to be preferred, since Damascus is now a matter of international importance, and Greece is once again a nation in its own right and has this treaty with Israel and the two are helping each other militarily.

The conclusion is that the tripartite treaty will ensure that Grecian forces will be fighting with Israel, not against her, and that the Scriptures are in agreement with this. Further, in view of the Syrian situation and Damascus, it appears that a major event is soon to occur. When the nations rush against Israel for her role in the Damascus wipe-out, Greece helps Israel and the Lord God appears over the armies and blows the trumpet. This is the Trumpet of God, not an angelic trumpet. The New Testament refers specifically to this event, sometimes called the Rapture or Translation, in which the resurrection of the believers in Messiah over the years and the catching away of the true Christians who are alive occurs (1 Corinthians 15:51-54, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

This event is also referred to in the book of Zephaniah in the most ancient version of the Scriptures, the Alexandrian LXX, where the gathering of Israel from world-wide dispersion is probably mentioned in 2:1-2, and the coming Rapture before the Tribulation in verse 3. Then, within this same context in the LXX, verse 10 says: “And Damascus will be left as the heap of a threshing-floor, and desolate forever: and the remnant of my people shall plunder them, and the remnant of my nation shall inherit them… and the Lord shall appear over them…”

However, Greece and Cyprus are also in focus after the Rapture event. The Rapture marks the onset of the Tribulation in which a 7 year covenant is signed with Israel to bring peace to the Middle East by the personage that is popularly called the Antichrist. In Daniel 11 he is called the “King of the North” and from the context of Daniel 8 and 11 it appears that he comes from Turkey.  The policies of the current President of Turkey are ensuring that the mechanism is set up for this event. Old and New Testament verses indicate that the Temple will be re-built on the Temple mount in Jerusalem as part of that 7 year agreement. However, Daniel 11 indicates that after the first three and a half years the Antichrist (king of the north) will set himself up in the Temple and cause all to worship him as god. This is called the Abomination of Desolation. But the reason why Antichrist does this is interesting; it involves Cyprus and Greece.

Daniel 11 makes it plain that, during this 7 year period of Tribulation, there are three occasions when Turkey and Egypt go to war. On the third occasion, at the end of those 7 years, in verses 40-45 it is the prelude to the battle of Armageddon. At the height of this battle Messiah Returns to rule over the whole world. However, it is the second occasion which gains our attention here. This occurs about three and a half years into the Covenant period, and it involves Cyprus and the setting up of the Abomination of Desolation in Daniel 11:29-31. It reads like this: “At the appointed time, he [the Antichrist – king of the north] shall return and go towards the south [Egypt in this context]; but it shall not be like the first occasion or like the last. For [Grecian] ships from Cyprus shall come against him; therefore he will be grieved, and return in rage against the [7-year] Covenant.  … And forces will be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress and shall take away the daily sacrifices and place there the Abomination of Desolation.” The question of interest is why Grecian ships from Cyprus should induce the Turkish leader to behave that way and stop his advance to Egypt.

In order to understand why, we need to briefly look at Turkey and recent history. Turkey annexed northern Cyprus after an invasion in 1974. The southern portion of the island belongs to the Greek Cypriots. There is an ongoing dispute between Turkey on the one hand and Greece and Cyprus on the other. That is the prelude.  The second part of the 3-part drama is that the current President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, performed an economic and environmental miracle for Turkey by changing its economy to run almost entirely on natural gas, including its transportation system. As a result, Istanbul has some of the cleanest air among the world’s cities. The downside is that Turkey has very little oil or natural gas of its own; it has to be imported.

The third part of the drama commenced in 2011 when Israel discovered huge natural gas deposits offshore in the Mediterranean. These gas fields are in both Israeli and Greek-Cypriot waters. Israel has been asked by the Greek-Cypriots to help open and market their reserves. In the last year more reserves have been found further south towards Egypt, and Egyptian-Israeli cooperation is lined up to exploit these deposits also. On Sunday 31st January, 2016, Turkey signed a 1.3 billion dollar gas deal with Israel in order to overcome her supply problems.

Now, a few weeks later, the Tripartite Agreement with Israel, Greece and Cyprus is aiming to have a pipeline supplying these 3 countries from the fields as well. Egypt is ready to be invited in to the party. But Turkey will want to do everything possible to maintain her gas supply. It takes very little imagination to see how an interruption to the Turkish supply line would be a cause of intense anger for the Turkish leader (the king of the north). Since Greece, Cyprus and Israel are now aligned, these events could easily cause Antichrist to vent his anger on Israel by his invasion of the Temple Mount and the institution of the Abomination of Desolation in order to exert his authority. It seems then that we might be watching prophecy in the making. Further information can be found in the article on Cyprus on this website.

Barry Setterfield, 24th February, 2016.